Last Wednesday, RGVFC split points with Austin Bold FC after a 1-1 draw. Next up, a West Coast trip for the Toros as they face Orange County SC on Saturday.
RGVFC Toros (6-3-3)
The match between RGVFC and Austin Bold FC was evenly contested and largely a battle in the midfield. The clubs combined for just four shots on target and the draw was probably a fair result. Early in the second half, former Houston Dynamo defender Kofi Sarkodie opened the scoring after finding some space in the box to smash the ball past former teammate Tyler Deric.
Juan Carlos Azocar was able to find the equalizer for the Toros. Rodrigo Lopez spotted his run and the Venezuelan stayed onside and got in behind the Austin defense and buried his chance. When he’s healthy, he continues to prove that he can be a gamechanger for this RGVFC side.
In a match with no clear-cut dominant side and facing a dominant defensive unit, Wilmer Cabrera will be pleased to come away with a point on the road. He’s also had to continue to tinker with the starting group for the Toros, but he can rely on the key veterans like Lopez, Deric, Juan David Cabezas, Adrian Diz Pe, and Erik Pimentel to stabilize his team every time out.
A big benefit that the veteran-heavy roster provides is consistency. The club has only lost three times in 12 matches and not one of those defeats was by multiple goals. They are in the top half of the league in goals scored (despite not having a true striker in the XI in every match), fewest goals conceded, and total passes. There may be clubs with a higher ceiling than RGVFC, but the Toros may have one of the highest floors in the USL Championship and that will keep them in the mix all season.
Juan Carlos Azocar: The explosive forward registered the only shot on goal for RGVFC and capitalized on the opportunity for the lone goal in the 1-1 draw. He added one chance created and won three fouls.
Adrian Diz Pe: Back after missing the El Paso match, RGVFC’s best defender completed 52 passes and made four clearances.
Rodrigo Lopez: Continuing with his great form of late, Lopez completed 63/71 passes, including the assist, and had two shots.
Orange County SC (6-2-3)
A perennial contender, Orange County SC got off to a tough start this season, losing two of their first three matches. But, they’ve proven their quality in the matches since as they ride a nine-match unbeaten streak that includes six victories. They are tied for the league-lead in clean sheets (five) and they’ve only conceded nine goals from their 11 matches (tied for second-fewest in the league).
At the other end, they have the third-best conversion rate and that’s while dealing with the absences of Thomas Enevoldsen and Adam Jahn, two star forwards, due to injury and leading-scorer Ronaldo Damus on international duty. Over the weekend, OCSC got goals from Brian Iloski and Chris Wehan in the first half to defeat Sacramento Republic FC, 2-0.
Before they host the Toros on Saturday, OC will play on the road vs. San Diego Loyal SC. They played to a draw vs. San Diego back in early June.
Orange County and RGVFC have faced off eight times in their history and despite Orange County typically being the better side overall, the record stands at four wins for the Toros, three wins for OC, and one draw.
Players to Watch
Eero Markkanen: With Ronaldo Damus away with the Haitian national team, the responsibility to produce up top for OC falls to the 6’6” Finnish striker. He has three goals on ten shots in his first season with the club.
Chris Wehan: His resume in the league includes winning Rookie of the Year and twice being named an All-League player. This year, he has three goals and three assists with one of each in the club’s win over Republic FC, earning him a place on the USL Championship Team of the Week.
Rob Kiernan: A former Watford and Rangers defender, Kiernan leads OCSC in clearances with 44 and has won an impressive 22/27 aerial duels. His veteran presence is a major key for the backline.
Saturday, 7 PM Central, at Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine
RGVFC at Orange County SC